In June 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its comprehensive five year study on the potential impacts of fracking on drinking water. Finding no widespread water contamination, it was only a matter of time before anti-fracking groups and celebrity fracktivists would launch a campaign to deny science. Here are some of their most notable tactics to deny science and replace it with perceptions and outliers, portrayed by characters from the television show Big Bang Theory!
First anti-fracking groups and celebrity fracktivists demanded a big study of fracking.
Fracktivists always claimed fracking polluted groundwater, but they had no proof. They figured their friends at the EPA would help them out.
They then forced the EPA to redefine fracking.
Fracking is one part of oil and gas production, but fracktivists use the term to mean everything. They got EPA to redefine the word, too – increasing the chances that an investigation of “fracking” would uncover water contamination.
But even then the EPA found no widespread water contamination.
After five years of study, EPA concluded that “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources.”
Frustrated, anti-fracking groups and celebrity fracktivists moved to limit the impacts of the EPA’s findings.
Even after five years of study, the head of the Sierra Club still said EPA must “conduct a comprehensive study that results in action to protect public health.” Food & Water Watch alleged a conspiracy, claiming the report “has the industry’s oily fingerprints all over it.”
Launching a campaign to deny science and change the EPA’s conclusions.
After EPA’s report was released, fracktivists – without any evidence – kept pressuring EPA and its advisors to “revise” the findings.
Including fear mongering and misleading facts.
And embracing science fiction to help strong arm EPA science adivsors.
Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo also lobbied for changes to the report.
Meanwhile, several other studies confirmed EPA’s findings.
Researchers at Yale University, Syracuse University and an extensive study conducted by California Council on Science and Technology all came to similar conclusions as the EPA – fracking is not a major threat to groundwater.
Undeterred, anti-fracking groups and celebrity fracktivists continued to spin science. Promoting ‘perceptions’ and ‘outliers’; not science.
Responding to fracktivist pressure, members of EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board recommended EPA change its findings “are perceived by many members of the public.” A member of SAB also cited “outliers” as a reason to change EPA’s overall findings.
And anti-fracking groups and celebrity fracktivists once again cheered science denial.
The head of Food & Water Watch said her organization was “pleased” that the SAB called for changes to EPA’s scientific findings without any new evidence.
But the EPA should ignore political pressure from anti-fracking groups and celebrity fracktivists.
EPA analyzed more than 950 published papers, technical reports, and peer-reviewed scientific studies. The conclusion that fracking has not lead to “widespread, systemic” water contamination is based on science, and should not be subject to political pressure.
Because the EPA and multiple other peer-reviewed studies have proven fracking is not a major threat to groundwater.
EPA was asked to determine the overall risk of fracking. Its draft report did just that. A number of other peer-reviewed studies have similarly confirmed that fracking does not pose a major risk of groundwater contamination.
Fracktivists and their celebrity allies have provided no evidence to suggest otherwise.